The Catholic Culture Podcast: 91 – The Temptation of St. Anthony


Nov 13, 2020

Watch this episode on YouTube:

The trials of St. Anthony the Great (251-356 AD), as described
in St. Athanasius’s Life and the medieval Golden
, have been a favorite subject of Western artists since
the Middle Ages. Anthony, a desert monk, was frequently assaulted
by Satan, who when he could not win by normal temptations, sent his
demons in the form of wild beasts, beautiful women, soldiers and
even monks to torment and distract the Desert Father.

Artists have long been fascinated with these episodes, finding
in them an opportunity for the most outlandish feats of
imagination. In this episode, Catholic art historian Elizabeth Lev
traces the development of this artistic subject from the Middle
Ages on, with special attention to the phantasmagorical work of
Hieronymous Bosch. From Bosch we proceed through the intervening
centuries to the modern era, where this theme was taken up again
but perhaps not in the most edifying spirit.

In this podcast (the YouTube version of which includes images of
the paintings), the first 40 minutes or so are spent introducing
the story of St. Anthony and examining some early medieval
depictions as well as later ones which focus heavily on his
traditional attributes. Then we take off with the increasingly
complex depictions of Anthony’s demonic trials, starting with
Bosch, examine various early modern variations, and conclude with
the nightmarish (yet spiritually distinct) visions of Max Ernst and
Salvador Dali. 


Zip file with all paintings shown in video

Elizabeth Lev, How Catholic Art Saved the Faith

Our audiobook of St. Athanasius’s Life of St.

St. Anthony’s life and legacy as one of the Church Fathers

Elizabeth Lev

Koin – Catholic event planning app

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